Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Fresh bid for Waiheke Island to break away from Super City

An online petition for de-amalgamation attracted 1861 signatures from the island's population of 8500. Photo / Supplied
An online petition for de-amalgamation attracted 1861 signatures from the island's population of 8500. Photo / Supplied

Waiheke Island, a bastion of alternative lifestyles and views, is making a fresh bid to break away from Auckland.

A group of islanders, "Our Waiheke", has got an application for a unitary council before the Local Government Commission.

Spokesman John Meeuwsen has told Super City Mayor Len Brown that the issues on mainland Auckland have limited relevance on Waiheke Island.

An online petition for de-amalgamation has attracted 1861 signatures from the island's population of 8500.

Local Government Commission chairman Sir Wira Gardiner said the commission will next determine what the area affected by the application is - Waiheke or the whole of Auckland - and then make an assessment as to whether there is community support for local government reorganisation in the affected area.

"If the Commission is not satisfied about community support, it may at this point decline the application," Sir Wira said.

"If it is satisfied there is support, it will call for alternative applications before deciding on a preferred local government option.

"If the preferred option is not the status quo, the Commission will then begin developing a draft reorganisation proposal before consulting further with the community and gauging public support for it."

A commission spokesman said it was too early to know the cost of any reorganisation.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said she was a bit worried the issue would polarise islanders.

"I know there is some support but there are also a number of people opposed," she said.

"At this point I do have real concerns about the ability of another entity to fund Waiheke's infrastructure requirements, given the number of residents now living on Waiheke and the huge number of tourists visiting the island. I will be listening and seeking the community's views on the application over the coming months."

She said Waiheke had a long history of moves by some members of the community to shift away from Auckland.

Following a petition to separate from Auckland City Council, a referendum was held in 1991. This vote failed and Waiheke remained part of Auckland City.

In 2008, the Royal Commission of Auckland Governance received a number of submissions opposing Waiheke being part of the proposed Auckland Council.

- NZ Herald

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